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Hilton Free Breakfast Rules: Who Gets It Where — and Why Gold and Diamond Benefits Aren’t As Clear Cut As You Think

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Hilton Free Breakfast Rules: Who Gets It Where — and Why Gold and Diamond Benefits Aren’t As Clear Cut As You Think

Jasmin BaronHilton Free Breakfast Rules: Who Gets It Where — and Why Gold and Diamond Benefits Aren’t As Clear Cut As You ThinkMillion Mile Secrets Team

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INSIDER SECRET: When you’re traveling on a budget, free breakfast certainly doesn’t hurt. That’s why many travelers use points and miles from the best hotel credit cards to book hotels with free breakfast, or maintain hotel elite status that gets them a complimentary morning meal at their favorite brands.

Qualifying for free breakfast as an elite traveler is by far the easiest at Hilton hotels. While several of the current Hilton hotel brands offer free breakfast to all guests, the majority only offer free breakfast to Gold and Diamond Hilton status holders. Don’t let the fancy-sounding status discourage you, though. You can easily earn automatic Gold or Diamond Hilton status just by having the right credit cards, including:

There are no credit cards with a similar level of automatic elite status that can get you a free breakfast at other brands like Marriott or Hyatt.

While Hilton Honors changed their free breakfast rules at all hotels for Gold and Diamond members, there’s still some confusion (and inconsistency) around what to expect at certain brands. In fact, breakfast offerings can vary wildly between properties within a brand or even in the same area — and you might not get a proper meal at all, but rather a food and beverage credit you can use on anything.

Let’s take a close look at what you can expect for breakfast as a Hilton traveler, especially when you have Gold or Diamond Hilton status.

Hilton Gold and Diamond elite status members get free breakfast at all Hilton hotels, including this healthy, fresh continental plate at the Waldorf Astoria Grand Wailea in Hawaii. (Photo by Jasmin Baron/Million Mile Secrets)

Making Sense of Hilton Free Breakfast Rules (Especially for Gold and Diamond Elites)

Hilton Hotels That Offer Free Breakfast to All Guests

Of the current Hilton hotel brands, these give complimentary breakfast to all guests regardless of elite status:

  • Canopy — This newer, small brand advertises “artisanal breakfast” made with fresh local ingredients
  • Embassy Suites — A family-friendly favorite, Embassy Suites offers made-to-order hot dishes like omelets (plus free snacks and appetizers in the evenings as well)
  • Hampton Inn — Hilton’s largest brand delivers hot and cold buffet items like waffles and oatmeal, plus “to-go” breakfast bags Monday-Friday in the US and Canada
  • Home2 Suites — This extended-stay brand adds breakfast sandwiches and egg bowls to the standard free hotel breakfast buffet fare
  • Homewood Suites — Popular with business travelers and families alike, this all-suite brand offers hot breakfast with plenty of choices for all, and weekday evening socials
  • Tru — Geared to millennial travelers, Tru has funky decor and “fun” breakfast offerings like a toppings bar and waffle boats ripe for filling with goodies
It might be packaged differently, but the buffet at Tru hotels doesn’t look much different from other free hotel breakfasts. (Photo courtesy of Hilton)

Hilton Hotels That Offer Free Breakfast to Gold and Diamond Elite Members

The Hilton Honors website now proudly advertises the fact that Gold and Diamond Hilton status members receive free breakfast at all Hilton hotels (until 2018, certain brands were excluded). This includes the hotels mentioned above (where everyone gets free breakfast regardless of status) and the following brands (note that Hilton Grand Vacations is an exception):

Hilton’s elite status chart clearly shows Gold and Diamond members receive complimentary breakfast at all hotels.

The Hilton Honors benefits terms are similarly clear (note this language hasn’t been updated to reflect that all guests receive free breakfast at Canopy hotels):

Complimentary Breakfast at all hotels

Daily complimentary breakfast is available either as a Member Benefit (at Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts, LXR Hotels & Resorts, Conrad Hotels & Resorts, Canopy by Hilton, Curio Collection by Hilton, Hilton Hotels & Resorts, DoubleTree by Hilton and Tapestry Collection by Hilton properties) or as a brand amenity, excluding Hilton Grand Vacations.

When selected as a MyWay Benefit by a Gold or Diamond Member, daily complimentary continental breakfast is provided for the Member and up to one additional guest registered to the same room each day of Member’s stay. Breakfast is only served in the hotel’s designated restaurant or Executive Lounge. At the discretion of the hotel or where breakfast is a brand amenity, the hotel may provide full breakfast or in-room service.

Let’s dig into the last paragraph a bit. Hilton My Way Benefits allow members to choose their earning style and, for Gold and Diamond members, select on-property benefits based on preference, like free breakfast, bonus points or upgrades (depending on brand). Gold members typically have to choose between breakfast and another amenity, while Diamonds usually get breakfast and other amenities. Here’s a summary of what you get at brands that don’t offer breakfast to all guests:

Hilton Hotel Brand Benefit for Hilton Gold Elite Status Members Benefit for Hilton Diamond Elite Status Members
Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts- Space-available upgrade to a preferred room

- 1,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points per stay or a daily complimentary continental breakfast in the hotel's designated restaurant for you and up to one additional guest registered to the same room each day of your stay
- Space-available upgrade to a preferred room

- 1,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points per stay

- A daily continental breakfast in the hotel's designated restaurant for you and up to one guest registered to the same room each day of your stay
Conrad Hotels & Resorts, Curio, DoubleTree, Hilton Hotels & Resorts, LXR Hotels & Resorts, Tapestry Collection - Space-available upgrade to a preferred room

- 1,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points per stay or a daily complimentary continental breakfast in the hotel's designated restaurant for you and up to one additional guest registered to the same room each day of your stay
- Space-available upgrade to a preferred room

- 1,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points per stay

- A complimentary continental breakfast for you and up to one guest registered to the same room each day of your stay

- Executive Floor Lounge Access (available at select properties)
Hilton Garden Inn- 750 Hilton Honors Bonus Points per stay or a complimentary Hot Cooked-to-Order Breakfast for you and up to one additional guest registered to the same room each day of your stay- 750 Hilton Honors Bonus Points per stay or a complimentary Hot Cooked-to-Order Breakfast for you and up to one guest registered to the same room each day of your stay

Except … this isn’t quite how it works.

Depending on the property, you might receive much more than a plain-Jane continental breakfast and instead get complimentary access to the full (often pricey) hot breakfast buffet. This was the case for my family when we stayed at the Conrad Tokyo and enjoyed one of the fanciest hotel breakfasts we’d ever seen. Had I paid cash, it would have cost $140 for the four of us (all of whom got free buffet breakfast with an additional a la carte option), but it was free with my Gold status at the time.

This eggs benedict at the Conrad Tokyo is still the best (and prettiest) I’ve ever had — they take their breakfast very seriously there. (Photo by Jasmin Baron/Million Mile Secrets)

Unfortunately, the opposite can be true as well. For example, the Hilton Hawaiian Village doesn’t offer a proper breakfast at all for Gold and Diamond members. Instead, you’ll receive a $10 per person (up to two guests per room) per night dining credit which you can use at select restaurants and bars in the resort. That’s not enough to even cover the price of a daily continental breakfast. When I last visited, my boyfriend and I pooled our credits over our stay and splurged on a dinner at the beachside restaurant instead of having breakfast at the hotel.

So how can you find out exactly what you’ll receive with your status at a particular Hilton location? Your best bet is to call or email the hotel directly and ask — don’t call the general Hilton reservation line, because the reps may not be up to date on recent changes (for example, the Waldorf Astoria Grand Wailea changed their breakfast policy earlier this year from a $15 per person daily credit to a continental plate daily in the main restaurant).

Beyond that, if you really want a good feel for exactly what is (and isn’t) included in your hotel breakfast, there’s this comprehensive FlyerTalk master thread where actual guests report the breakfast they received as a Gold/Diamond member, type of breakfast (continental, hot, etc.), whether it was in the restaurant or lounge, quality, upcharge to full buffet if applicable and more.

Bottom Line

Some Hilton hotel brands offer free breakfast to all guests, but at others you’ll need Gold or Diamond Hilton status to snag a free morning meal. Fortunately, you don’t have to set foot in a Hilton hotel to earn this level of status — it comes automatic with credit cards like the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card (Gold status) or Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express (Diamond status).

Hilton advertises that Gold and Diamond members receive free breakfast at all Hilton hotels, but it’s not quite that simple. Depending on your level of status and at certain brands, you may be given the option to choose between breakfast and another amenity, like bonus points.

Some hotels go well above the minimum continental breakfast described in the Hilton terms and conditions and roll out the red carpet to elite guests at their upscale hot buffet. Other hotels fall short and provide less than what’s promised, for example a marginal food and beverage credit in lieu of a proper breakfast.

The best way to find out what you’ll get at a specific property is to call the actual hotel directly. Barring that, there’s also a FlyerTalk thread listing Gold and Diamond member breakfast experiences at hundreds of Hilton hotels around the world.

I’d love to hear your experiences (good and bad) with Hilton free breakfast, especially as a Gold or Diamond. Share away in the comments!

For more about staying at Hilton for free, check out our guides:

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Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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I used my new AMEX HH Surpass card for the first time last month at the Doubletree DC-Crystal City. I received the continental cold breakfast each morning but the staff was clear that no hot items were included. As a result, I felt like I was being watched each time I was there to make sure I didn’t take anything I wasn’t supposed to.

As a Gold member, The Durban Hilton only offered me breakfast in the Executive lounge (limited options) and not in the restaurant.

I was told that only Diamond members had an option of breakfast in the lounge or restaurant.

Thanks for reporting!

Also learned the hard way that Hilton Chicago, only gives you a$10 per day food credit also, which gets you hardly anything! Breakfast in the restaurant costs $30, and of course you can dole out the $20 and use the $10 credit there…otherwise they say you can go to the store and get a coffee and a pastry. That’s what $10 will get you. Pathetic.

Author

Hi tm — I wouldn’t have been impressed either!

I recently stayed at the Hilton ATL Airport. The details on “My Stay” on the app clearly states that my room came with free continental breakfast. I went to the front desk at 5:55 am and inquired when the restaurant opened and asked if I needed a voucher for the free breakfast. The front desk girl told me that I was entitled to a 15% discount at the restaurant not a free breakfast. I told her that I was a diamond member and that I was pretty sure I got free breakfast with my stay. She informed me again in no uncertain terms that I was only entitled to a discount not a free breakfast. I then told her that I couldn’t remember the last time that breakfast wasn’t included at a Hilton property with either my room rate or my diamond status. I walked off and pulled up my app and showed her where on my reservation it clearly stated that I got a free breakfast. She then said “Oh, that’s a continental breakfast ” I asked where I could get the free continental breakfast and she told me it was served in the restaurant. I then asked why she didn’t tell me when I inquired about the free breakfast… her reply was that I didn’t specifically ask about the continental breakfast. Then she began to argue with me when I asked her if it didn’t occur to her to say that you get a discount on the full breakfast, but the continental breakfast is free when I first inquired. Surely when I pressed the point multiple times, you should have told me that yes, the continental breakfast was free. There were some other customer service issues there at check in, but the rudeness about the breakfast was my breaking point…I will never stay at the Hilton ATL Airport again.

Author

Hi Drew — Sounds like you might want to give the Hilton customer service line a call to let them know about the employee/property. Sorry you went through that.

IMO the Hiltons outside the US provide the best value for Gold/Diamond members. Best breakfasts I’ve had were probably Conrad Koh Samui, Hilton Millennium Bangkok, Rome Cavalleiri, and Hilton Bogota. The executive lounges in Europe have been better than those I’ve been to in the US, generally.

OH – the one major US exception is the Curtis, in Denver. Technically it’s a Double Tree. But they give you complimentary breakfast in their restaurant, and that place is awesome. The Curtis is one of my favorite US hotels. It’s totally unique, but still has the Double Tree cookies and the Hilton benefits. I stay there at least once or twice a year.

Author

Hi Just Jess — Agreed on the overseas comment. Thanks for sharing your experience in Denver, sounds like a lovely hotel!

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